If you haven’t read Reapers, this series on story development will not be as effective for you, so if you want to keep up, I suggest reading it. 🙂
Here are links where you can purchase Reapers.
Ever since I began posting this story’s development, my blog readership for Tuesdays has dropped significantly. Maybe people don’t want to read spoilers. Maybe the story isn’t interesting. Maybe readers just don’t like Reapers because of the content. In any case, I have to reevaluate this weekly feature and decide whether or not to continue. Perhaps I should do something else on Tuesdays. If you have any input on that topic, please comment.
(***Huge spoilers for those who haven’t read Reapers***)
This excerpt provides what the protagonist needs for his next journey. He receives a device that will help him along the way, a kind of guiding light. He also receives the energy he needs to survive. Both of these were foreshadowed in the previous book. Such devices should always be foreshadowed. They should never pop up out of nowhere, which would be a contrivance.
Also, I added a bit of a surprise in the final line so that this meeting with the antagonist isn’t a mundane exchange of information. Now Phoenix has a lot more to think about.
Shanghai stepped forward. “Of course he needs your help. He needs an energy charge. He can barely walk.”
Alex lowered her hand and hummed a laugh. “Shanghai, the ever-loyal friend, now trying to cover Phoenix’s vulnerability. I find your effort to be both honorable and praiseworthy, though entirely futile.”
She walked back to the chair, again with an obvious strut, and set a hand on top of the gas tank. “I will provide an energy charge and blood refill for both of you. I need your mental faculties to be fully engaged before I explain your task.”
“What kind of energy is it?” Shanghai asked. “The pure stuff that sent us flying on the clouds?”
“It is the pure stuff, as you call it, but you should be able to endure it without an undue amount of flying. One of the reasons I exposed you both to it earlier was to allow you to acclimate to the hormonal effects, to build up a resistance. You will need the pure form in order to accomplish the tasks that lie before you.” Alex lifted the tank’s tube. “Who would like to go first?”
I unplugged my cloak and walked to Alex. “I’ll be the guinea pig.”
“First the blood.” While Alex retrieved the necessary items from the first-aid kit, I rolled up my torn sleeve. She wrapped an elastic band around my upper arm and swabbed the crook with an alcohol-doused cotton ball. Grime smeared my skin and adhered to the cotton, forcing her to use three balls to clean the area.
As she slid the needle into my skin and began drawing blood, she looked me in the eye, silent, as if searching. Her gray irises seemed to glitter, though the light in the room stayed constant.
When the syringe filled, she pressed a fresh cotton ball on the insertion point and slid the needle out. While I held the ball in place, she inserted the needle into my clasp and began infusing blood. “You won’t feel the benefits until you receive the energy boost.”
“You’re right. I don’t feel a thing. It’s all numb in there.”
“We’ll take care of that in a moment.” After finishing the procedure, she grasped the tank nozzle, pushed it into my sternum, and opened the valve. “The trial with this gas proved that it provides a greater ability to transition into the ghost realm. Being invisible to non-Reapers will be essential if you are to make it safely to the Gateway.”
As the energy flowed, warmth spread from the entry point to my arms, abdomen, and legs. It seemed that every cell let out a sigh of pleasure. My muscles flexed. My brain cleared. My body straightened.
I looked at Shanghai. Although dirt marred her Asian features from chin to forehead, and tangles mussed her ebony hair, she radiated beauty from the top of her lovely head, down her athletic, toned body, to her dark running shoes. She was the model of feminine perfection.
I wanted to shout how amazing she looked, but a niggling whisper told me to fight the influence. I had beaten it before. I could beat it again.
Alex eyed a meter near the nozzle. “You’re past one hundred percent, but I’m going to overload you a bit to make sure you have enough. It might be a while before you can get another charge.”
After several more seconds, she shut off the gas and withdrew the nozzle. “One hundred and fifteen percent should be safe.”
Now feeling like a young buck ready to prance, I glided out of the way and laid the staff on the floor. “Shanghai, your turn.”
“How is it affecting you?” She narrowed her eyes. “Are you able to control it?”
“It feels pretty amazing.” I gave her a reassuring nod. “I’m handling it, though.”
She stepped in front of Alex. “Let’s do it.”
After going through the same blood-and-energy infusion process with Shanghai, Alex closed the first-aid kit and wrapped the nozzle around the top of the tank. “You are now both registering one hundred fifteen.”
Shanghai turned toward me. Her eyes flashed as bright as strobes. She seemed ready to say something but bit her lip and folded her hands behind her.
I focused on Alex. “So, you mentioned a tracking device you wanted to show me.”
“Yes, both of you come with me.” No longer strutting, she walked to the kitchen portion of my studio apartment where I kept a circular table and folding metal chair.
On the tabletop, a wrist watch sat on blue velvet in an open box. The wrist band seemed ordinary—a narrow dark leather strap with a buckle. And the analog face displayed two hands pointing toward the usual numerals.
Alex lifted the watch from its bed and laid it over her wrist. When she buckled it in place, she spoke to it with careful enunciation. “Alexandria.”
The two hands converged and became one, and two digital windows opened, one near the twelve and the other near the six. “This device will track your position. When it is calibrated, the hand will point in your direction, and the displays will tell me how far away you are as well as a percentage estimate of your energy level based on the distance you have traveled as well as your heart rate, respiration, and perspiration over the duration of the time since calibration. If the estimate reaches a level that compromises your mission, I might be able to send someone to help you.”
Pinching the necklace chain, I lifted the medallion she gave me at the corrections camp. “And this sends the signal, I assume.”
“Correct.” Alex pressed a button on the side of the watch. The face glowed for a moment, then darkened. The hand drifted counterclockwise and pointed toward the window that opened to the alley. “This is strange. It isn’t supposed to point until I activate your medallion.”
“Do you have medallions on other Reapers?”
“A few, but this watch was pre-programmed to track your DNA.” She nodded at my medallion. “Press it between your thumb and forefinger.”
I did so.
Alex stared at the watch’s face. “Do you feel anything?”
A tingle penetrated my skin, then a sense of warming. “It’s heating up.”
“Good. You can let it go now.”
When I released the medallion, the watch’s hand drifted again and pointed directly at me.
“Excellent.” Alex waved a hand. “Now walk to your reading chair.”
I glanced at Shanghai. She stood with her arms crossed, monitoring everything with a suspicious gaze.
I took slow steps to the chair, now no longer able to see the watch, though both Alex and Shanghai kept their eyes on it.
“Perfect,” Alex said, her stare locked on the watch. “The hand followed you. The display indicates that you are eight feet away, and your energy level is ninety-nine-point-nine percent.”
I touched the tingling medallion. “It’s probably higher than that, since you overdosed me.”
“True. The gauge assumed one hundred percent when we turned on the medallion, so I have to keep in mind that it is underestimating your level.”
I refocused on Alex. “What happens if I lose it? Or if someone else carries it?”
“The locator will continue functioning, but the energy display will fall to zero no matter who else carries it, even another Reaper.” She crossed her arms, concealing the watch. “The medallion connects with you because of the DNA match between you and the blood. If your energy display drops to zero, I will know that you and the medallion have been separated. Or perhaps you have died, because death will cause it to lose its connection with you. If such a drop occurs, I will investigate.”
I walked back to the kitchen area. “Is this device being tested on non-Reapers, too? I mean, is the Gatekeeper hoping to track everyone?”
“Not yet. Experiments with non-Reaper blood have failed to this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his ultimate goal is to monitor everyone’s position. Being the tyrant that he is, he wants to make sure no one can get close to him without his knowledge. He is paranoid about assassination attempts.”
“You call him a tyrant,” Shanghai said. “Quite a surprise hearing that from one of his Council members.”
Alex raised her brow. “So Phoenix hasn’t told you about my ultimate goal?”
“He told me, but what happens if he succeeds? Will we just have a new tyrant to take the Gatekeeper’s place?”
“Only if you consider Phoenix to be a tyrant.”
Categories: Story Development